Reading this thread has brought back some bad memories with a silver lining - a lesson learned. I got burned in a similar manner - for a lot more money - by HighBeam
research. I was googling for some info relating to my PhD research project and found it at Highbeam. In order to read the article I was encouraged to purchase a full membership or to sign up for a free 7 day trial. I opted for the trial. Part of the sign up process required supplying credit card information, which really should have clued me in, but didn't. Because I use Roboform, this happened automatically and I clicked right through the "Roboform has filled in sensitive information" warning because the sign up blurb gave me some (now forgotten) spiel about why they needed this information to process my trial. I used the service the one time and promptly forgot about it. I guess this occurred right at the end of my credit card's billing cycle because I signed up on March 19 and the trial ended March 26. I wrote to them on April 1 querying the $120 Cdn. charge to my credit card:
I have just noted a $120 Cdn. charge on my credit card from Highbeam
Research. Apparently, my trial period ended five days ago and has been
converted into a full membership account. I received no warning of the
trial period coming to an end and was thus afforded no opportunity to
cancel the membership before it's conversion to a paid account. I also
received no receipt from HighBeam Research, nor an e-mail advising me
that my credit card had been charged.
Their response indicated that I had agreed to the trial reverting to full, paid membership if not cancelled within 7 days by agreeing to the TOS. NB that at no point were the fees stated during the sign up process (One result of this experience is that I now check the price of services and software before signing up for trials!). They would not budge and I didn't pursue the matter as I felt like a real idiot! I received a receipt a week later. Anyway, I took this as a hard lesson well learned about being careful when signing up for ANYTHING on the internet.
Reading this thread this morning prompted me to go take a look at the HighBeam TOS
and I note that there is a prominent note about this at the top of the page (the pertinent clause is 2.5). They have the end user agree to the TOS by filling in a radio button indicating that they have read it - it's hyperlinked to the right of the radio button. I am sure that they are operating within the letter of the law, however, I feel that it is shady to offer a trial without EXPLICITLY stating during the sign-up process that the end user has effectively purchased a fully paid membership with a 7 day opt out option.
Again, my fault for agreeing to the TOS without bothering to read it
Needless to say, I no longer agree to anything without at least scanning the TOS for pitfalls like this!